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300                             THE GAY GENIUS

was magistrate at Chinkiang, sent two old soldiers to serve him on the

But it was a pleasant journey through beautiful country, over hills
and dales, exciting rapids, and tall mountain ridges, and he enjoyed
them to the full. One exciting incident happened on the way. He had
been travelling in a government boat. When he was stopping at Poyang
Lake, south of Kiukiang, to his surprise a fourth order was issued,
further degrading him in rank. The commissioner of transportation
had learned of this order and had sent a troop of soldiers to take the
boat away from him. It was midnight when the soldiers arrived. Su
Tungpo stipulated that he be permitted to keep the boat till noon the
next day, to which the officer agreed. He was still a dozen miles away^
from the lake port leading to Nanchang. If he had luck in reaching
Nanchang, he would be safe, but if the wind were against him, he
would be thrown out of the boat with his family and luggage. He
went to pray at the temple of the Dragon King, who was in charge
of the safety of sailors. He explained to the god the difficulty he was
in, and said that if he did not reach his destination by the next morn-
ing he would have to sleep in the open. As soon, as his prayer was
finished a stiflf wind arose and filled the sails, and the boat sped for-
ward and arrived at the destination before breakfast-time. Later, on
his return journey, he offered a prayer of thanks to the Dragon King.

In September he crossed the famous Tayuling (General Yu's Notch),
through which .travellers to Canton in ancient China had to go. The
pass was a symbol of a long and hazardous journey into a region from
which many travellers never returned. A paved road had been built
three to four hundred yards on either side of the pass, planted witfi
shady trees to give shelter and rest to the travellers. It was a senti-
mental place where many travellers scribbled poems on the rocks.
Standing there on the peak of the mountain, so close to the sky and
the clouds, Su Tungpo felt that he was living in a dream-world and
he forgot the existence of his material body. From that height he
could see the pettiness of men and their ways, and the clean mountain
wind brushed away all mortal thoughts from his breast. After crossing
the Notch, he took the occasion to visit modern Kukong and the
Nanhua Temple, sacred to the memory of the Chinese Zen Buddhists.

Somewhere between Kukong and Canton he ran into an old Taoist
friend, Wu Fuku, who was now to be closely associated with him
during his exile days. Wu Fuku was a strange man. He had popped
up at different places in the past years of Su Tungpo's life. Su had
met him first at Tsinan, then again saw him at the captial. What
was this man doing? Had he no profession? What did he live upon?
Was he trying to befriend Su Tungpo in order to ask for something,
particularly when Su was in power at the court? But Wu never asked